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Don’t come the raw prawn this Christmas!

World Vision
22 December 2015 by Christine Hunt
Don’t come the raw prawn this Christmas!

As the oldest boy in his family, Khav misses out on school to work on a fishing boat during the monsoon season, to help his family get by. Photo by Chetra Tan, World Vision

It’s a big tradition in my household to have a seafood breakfast on Christmas Day. With pyjamas still on, and gifts barely unwrapped, the prawn and crabmeat platter does its rounds.

So it was very upsetting for me to hear, just 10 days shy of Christmas, that major Supermarkets have been embroiled in yet another child labour scandal involving seafood.

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have confirmed they sell seafood supplied by Thai company, Thai Union, accused of slave-like conditions in its prawn peeling factories, including using child labour.

World Vision’s Public Advocacy Manager and veteran blogger on ethical purchasing, Ruth Dearnley, spoke on the radio with ABC 774 last week* about how Australians could respond to the scandal.

She said greater collaboration between Local Government, NGOs and Corporates was needed to ensure seafood companies like Thai Union improve their standards, practices and working conditions.

She also pointed out the risks in boycotting imported seafood, with many poor families relying on the Australian market as their sole source of income.

Ruth shared some good news that leading Australian businesses, including Coles and Woolworths, signed a joint pledge this month to tackle forced labour and exploitation.

This was an announcement welcomed by World Vision’s CEO, Tim Costello. He said, “We…applaud Australian businesses for coming together to tackle this significant problem. This is a global problem and no company is immune to it – and therefore all must play their part in reducing exploitation in their supply chains.”

This Christmas, don’t let retailers come the raw prawn with you! Make sure you’re well informed about what you’re buying and where your seafood is coming from.

Download World Vision’s Seafood factsheet for more information and look for ethically certified products such as the Marine Stewardship Council.

You can also use helpful guides like the Shop Ethical! app and the Greenpeace Prawn Guide to help you make informed choices as a consumer.

We can all make Christmas a little merrier by doing our bit to ensure our prawns are ethical and sustainable and that we’re not contributing to human rights abuses.

Read and subscribe to Ruth Dearnley’s blogs to learn more about ethical shopping and advocacy.

* To listen to Ruth’s chat with Richelle Hunt on 774 ABC Melbourne go to 2hr 1 min in. 

Christine Hunt Christine Hunt

Christine Hunt is the Public Advocacy Lead for World Vision Australia.


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